The possibility of the NFL expanding overseas has been discussed recently. The National Football League is trying to expand its brand internationally. Successful international expansion has been achieved by other leagues such as MLB and the NBA.
But the NFL has only been around for a few decades. Since 2007, the NFL has hosted points per game in London. With the addition of Munich, Germany to the already extensive list of overseas venues that includes Mexico City and London.
A new high-water mark has been set for the number of games being played outside of the United Kingdom. Becoming global is a long-term aim, although doing so presents several challenges. We will examine three obstacles facing the NFL as it attempts to expand internationally.
A Shift in the Time Zones
For the NFL’s foreign growth, this is the biggest obstacle. Traveling outside of North America to play games is a significant source of stress for both players and coaches. Teams have rigorous routines to attempt to overcome jet lag and adapt to the new time zone as fast as possible.
The game of football is already challenging. Each member of the squad will need a few days to readjust to the time difference when they visit the west coast. Intense time zone adjustments as a regular element of the competition would be a significant challenge for players and coaches.
The practicalities of bringing an NFL club overseas, particularly to Europe, are another crucial factor to consider. If the NFL’s aim to expand internationally succeeds, London might get a club. Over the last 15 years, they have contributed the most games to that site.
When do they play next and who do they face? The team would have to visit the States around once every four weeks if they followed a typical NFL schedule. Since their bodies would be in a continual state of adjustment due to the time difference, that team would be at a severe disadvantage.
Alternatively, they could play 8-9 consecutive home games, followed by 8-9 consecutive road games, although that schedule seems just as terrible for players and coaches. The NFL’s plans to expand overseas face serious difficulties due to the time zone difference.
Flag Football Is the Main Focus
Flag football is a major part of the NFL’s strategy to expand its brand internationally. The National Football League is lobbying hard to get the sport included in the 2028 Summer Games. The NFL’s global growth cannot occur unless the league is widely recognized.
Mexico took home the gold medal in the 2022 World Games when the sport made its debut. Since flag football does not involve tackling, there are fewer out-of-pocket expenses associated with getting started.
The difficulty arises from the fact that flag football is a quite different sport. To begin with, there is a severe length restriction of just 70 yards. Given that it is not a contact sport, blocking and screening are not permitted.
Because of this, pass rushing will be minimal at best. There are some areas where passing is the sole option. No inside throws are allowed, and the quarterback is not allowed to run with the ball. Watching even a short clip of a game might give you a quite different impression of what the rest of it is like.
It contains the framework of the original game but plays quite differently. This is a major obstacle to the NFL’s plans to expand overseas. It is going to be tough to get folks excited about a new game if they are already invested in one.
International Defeats of the Past
Previous attempts had been made to expand the NFL overseas. Were you aware that there existed a league for American football in Europe? I will freely confess that I did not.
(Although I will admit, I do have a hazy recollection of the Europe teams appearing in a Madden game.) It began in 1989 and continued until 2007 when the NFL began scheduling regular-season games in other countries.
Although it went through multiple transformations, its original purpose remained the same: to serve as an NFL feeder league. There, players could try out different strategies and see how the game would play out under different conditions. Despite its popularity, the league failed due to two factors.
To begin, it was a subpar offering, and the audience was well aware of this. People stopped tuning in to NFL Europe in favor of the better NFL, as the former became simpler to watch throughout the world.
This is reflected in the struggles of other American football leagues to get off the ground. How about the AAF we heard about a while back? The product simply was not as excellent as the NFL; thus, it did not even last a complete season. The same high standard of play is required for the NFL to expand internationally.
Second, the lack of funding is the ultimate killer of any product. In its time of operation, NFL Europe lost a lot of money. Profitability is essential to a company’s continued existence.
Playing a few regular-season games there was the most financially viable option. The NFL invested the funds from its worldwide growth on media contracts to promote the game’s development in those markets.
The true issue is whether or not the NFL has improved as a result of its previous mistakes. Important for the growth of the NFL across the world.
The NFL has several obstacles in expanding overseas. Nonetheless, there seems to be a significant market for this product.
Football’s rising profile across the world is undeniable. The observation that the United States of America did not completely dominate the football competition in the 2022 World Games is evidence of the sport’s widespread appeal.
This is no small feat since the games often sell out. The National Football League will need to decide on its foreign growth strategy in the coming years.